Thursday, September 13, 2012
DARK ROMANCE: SEXUALITY IN THE HORROR FILM
Don't be scared off by the sub-title: this is a very readable, entertaining look at horror films of all types [and many horror films have sexual sub-texts, which Hogan examines]; basically this is a book on horror movies, plain and simple. Hogan has chapters on vampires, werewolves, the Frankenstein monster [father vs. son conflicts], teen horror flicks of the fifties, Alfred Hitchcock, [going from the sublime to the ridiculous] Ed Wood ; Roger Corman, Barbara Steele [of Black Sunday and many others]; and Herschell Gordon Lewis and other goremeisters of his ilk. Okay, there are a few things that give one pause, such as: "I dare any woman to turn off the lights and try to resist the delicious sexual terror that must come when [Bela] Lugosi pauses on the stair and pronounces: "I am ... Dracula." Frankly, most [straight] women today wouldn't find Lugosi such a sex symbol anymore, but one can assume Hogan is having fun with the reader. On rare occasions you get the impression Hogan is writing from memory instead of a fresh viewing: he makes the harmless, not that gory [if admittedly gruesome] Attack of the Crab Monsters sound like a gore fest. Hogan expresses fear that the 70's and 80's gore films could desensitize an audience [on this he may well have been right, considering stuff like Piranha 3D], and objects to the "new wave sexual silliness" seen in a lot of movies. The book is admirably pro-female [the genre has often objectified women] and generally open-minded, although at times you sense a repressed reactionary lingering under the surface. Still, Dark Romance is an excellent, well-written book that aficionados will enjoy. NOTE: This review is of the original hardcover edition, not any revised reprints.
Verdict: Enthusiastic and informative survey of the horror genre with its own sexy slant. ***1/2.